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Humanitarian efforts: Are they enough?

From raging floods and forest fires to senseless acts such as 9/11 and the recent riots, no one is immune from trouble. Regardless of the specific instances and our individual differences, when tragedy strikes, it is certainly nice to see people coming together and rallying around those in need. While kindness and generosity are core tenets of citizenship and humanity, as the church we must ask ourselves, are they enough?

Humanitarian efforts play a vital role in meeting basic needs and sustaining lives. However, as our Kingdom Care framework indicates, Jesus expects more than good deeds and temporary relief. Knowing that people often read and interpret the story of the Sheep and the Goats literally, we elaborate on Matthew 25:41-43 to highlight the importance of providing spiritual support.

New International Version

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

Our interpretation/explanation

41 “Then he will say to the goats, shoo. For denying my love and disobeying my commands, your destiny is the eternal fire.
42 For I was spiritually hungry, but you did not share Jesus with me. I was rebellious and parched, but you did not show me the way of life everlasting.
43 I was not part of the church, and you did not acknowledge me and help me get connected. I needed to be made righteous and holy, but you did not disciple and teach me. I was living in darkness and enslaved to my sin, but you neither loved nor cared for me as your neighbor.’

As the church, our primary concern is saving souls. Whereas being kind and generous may be sufficient for the secular world, discipling and teaching must be our foremost expressions and currency for loving people. Additionally, while the lives impacted and the path of destruction are undeniable when the storms are catastrophic, let’s be careful not to overlook those among us who are facing less apparent storms of life.

Many people are suffering in silence with no help in sight. Regardless of their situations and our intentions, we lead others astray when we fail to provide the type of sustenance and support that offers true life and lasting hope. Moreover, a kindred spirit is no substitute for experiencing the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.